India’s traditional agriculture supply chain, which contributes to nearly 15% of the output of India’s $2.9 trillion economy and employs around half its 1.3 billion people, like most other traditional supply chains got disrupted due to a sudden upsurge caused as a result of the pandemic.
The sector, since the onset of the pandemic, has witnessed a slew of changes both at the policy and the operational level.
Recently, Rajya Sabha passed two farm bills — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 along with the Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
The new reform allows barrier-free inter-state trade of farm produce and farmers to engage with large retailers and exporters and aims to end the role of middlemen or commissioning agents who over the years were bullying farmers and taking a major part of their earnings. The government claims that this newly passed bill would help in removing such middlemen from the system would liberate farmers from such constraints.
Seizing to the new deregulations, the Indian startups and venture capitals are now investing in India’s traditional agri-sector and are transforming the sector with a hint of digitalization.
In India, enormous amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables rot between farm and table because of manual handling, repeated loading, and unloading, poor inventory management, lack of adequate storage, and slow movement of goods. According to experts, this rate of wastage from faulty supply chains is four to five times than that of most large economies.
Indian agri-startups are working to connect farmers to big buyers nationwide and improve supply chain efficiency which loses one-fourth of India’s produce to wastage.
Indian agri-startups also provide means to the nation’s 85% of farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land and are unable to sell beyond local markets.
Apart from providing the farmers with a platform to directly sell their products to large institutional buyers, agri-startups are also providing them with last-mile connectivity for easy logistics and storage services.
Furthermore, agri-tech platforms are also using data science and machine learning technologies to improve production efficiency. And, they are giving farmers expert insights and advisory on choosing the correct crop, soil health, suitable fertilizers and pesticides to be used, the right time for harvesting the produce, and more.
Some of India’s leading agri-tech startups that are leading this transformation of a traditional supply chain are AgriBazaar, Crofarm, DeHaat, KrishiHub, NinjaCart, Clover, Bijak, etc.
As per the Nasscom 2019 report, India is home to more than 450 Agri-tech startups, growing at a rate of 25% year-on-year. The sector has received more than $248 million in funding as of June 2019, a growth of 300% as compared to the previous year.
Moving forward, the sector will witness more traction as the new law coupled with affordable mobile phones and ultra-cheap data make it easier for farmers to go digital.